“The truth of it is if we are really going to get tough with China and we want to try and hurt China’s ability to become this global superpower then we’re going to have to face the facts that in the short term this will cost us too,” he said.
“It’s not something we can do that’s cost-free; it isn’t cost-free but, in terms of strategy, in terms of geopolitics, this is the biggest geopolitical struggle since the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago.”
Farage was optimistic the public would be willing to pay more for non-Chinese made goods likening it to the widespread support for better animal welfare standards leading to higher meat prices.
“We already make these choices now,” he said.
If the UK doesn’t want to be beholden to China, then drugs like antibiotics may need to be manufactured in Britain, or in a friendly country lie Switzerland, he said.
Farage said the pandemic had accelerated the public’s desire to rethink the new globalist order, but this had started with the vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as US President in 2016.
“This is a continuation of the same phenomenon … many of the debates we’re having now about what is a nation-state? What is national security? Yep, it’s part of the same game.”
US-China relations have worsened since the coronavirus pandemic emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, as have Trump’s own political fortunes.
Trump has repeatedly referred to it as the Wuhan virus and lashed out at Beijing for not stopping the disease from leaving China. The administration has declared Hong Kong no longer autonomous while Chinese propaganda has increased its criticism and mocking of Trump’s domestic response to the pandemic, with the United States death toll topping 100,000 last week, making it the highest in the world.
But Farage, who is personally close to Trump, warned against writing off his chances of re-election saying he was needed to stop China “effectively taking over the world”.
“If he wasn’t there who would take the lead on this?” Farage said. “Certainly not, certainly not Joe Biden. And Australia on its own is going to find it very difficult to do it; Boris Johnson’s going to need a hell of a lot of kicking to do it; and the European Union are, I’m afraid just appeasers, of China at every level.
“In terms of stopping China effectively taking over the world – whatever people think his faults may be – the reelection of Trump is actually central to it.”
Brexit not over yet
Asked if Brexit had left the UK exposed to China, with Brexiteers keen to strike new trade deals once outside the single market, Farage said the opposite was true.
“In fact, if we stayed in the European Union we would have kept ourselves more beholden to China because that’s what the EU intend to do.”
When asked if the UK would still prioritise a free-trade agreement with China as a result of Brexit Farage said: “nope, nope, nope.”
The UK is approaching crunch trading talks with the EU amid speculation the two sides could fail to agree on a future trading arrangement for when the transition period ends at the end of this year.
Farage backed the strategy adopted by the Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost but warned the Tory party, with whom his previous UKIP and Brexit parties have competed with for votes, that he would not hesitate to return to front-line politics if the government accepted trading terms that bound Britain to EU regulations, as Brussels is demanding.
And he said China-policy would be a key battleground of any revived movement, having professed a growing interest in the issue since the UK’s debate about involving Chinese firm Huawei to build Britain’s 5G networks. That decision is subject to a new review, amid a backbench revolt.
“And of course if the Brexit Party does have to reactivate you can rest assured that China will be up there in one of the top two or three policies,” Farage said. “With my base, the debate on China has started by it’s still got a long way to go.”
Farage is famous for threatening returns to front-line politics even though his career peaked with his election to the European Parliament.
He has never won a seat in the House of Commons and his Brexit and UKIP parties have collapsed after disastrous in-fighting. However, he has managed to influence the UK’s foreign policy through his media presence and huge online social media following.
He said he had engaged with 17 million people online with his recent coverage of migrant boats crossing the English Channel, an issue barely reported in the British press.
Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in London.